Thursday, July 24, 2008

Autoricksha Confessions 6: Growing up with sisters

I've narrated a part of this story before but I think it bears repeating

Growing up I didn't have any sisters - and I've always missed having one.

But there was an awkward age - during which us boys couldn't stop analyzing the merits and demerits of girls - when this became a distinct advantage. Friends who had sisters developed an awkward awareness that their sisters were being put through the same scrutiny that they afforded other girls.

I remember once riding pillion on my friend's motorcycle, spotting a long haired girl from behind, exclaiming together "Woot! What a maal!" and realizing as we drew closer that it was said friend's older sister. Awkwardness!

And there was yet another incident involving a different friend - let's call him Ranjeet shall we? Ranjeet's sister, Farida Jalal (not her real name) once went to see a movie and was repeatedly harassed by the boy next to her who kept rubbing up against her in the dark. Now this being a chuha-billi theater (i.e. think toxic garbage dump but with seats) with terrible lighting, Farida couldn't tell who was sitting next to her.

But as the movie hit intermission, the lights went up and Farida turned to confront her tormentor. It was none other than Ranjeet who turned visibly pale. "Ranjeet!" she screamed. "Saala badmaash! Wait till I tell mummy what you have been doing to girls in the theater!" If I remember correctly Ranjeet was grounded for the rest of his high school life and suffered the ignominy of turning beet red whenever we studied certain events in Greek literature.

In any case, I had a scarring incident related to having a sister - and I didn't even have one!

This happened in my school years when we were all just hitting puberty and becoming intensely aware of a girl in class who was later accorded the status of Maha Maal - which meant that girls would come and go but there would be none like her. She was pretty and graceful - picture Michelle Monaghan complete with green eyes. I was hugely interested in her best friend (we'll call her Bipasha) which was unfortunate, because how do you make friends with the princess to get at her friend?

But back to the main story. Once the nuns in my catholic school decided to become all secular and celebrate Rakshabandhan with a sample boy and girl. This was torture enough. But it got worse.

Our teacher Mrs. Mukherjee - a tall imposing figure with a penchant for pulling cheeks instead of slapping them - announced one fine day that the fake brother and sister would be picked from our very class.

Needless to say Michelle - with her stunning visibility - was picked to be the sister. None of the boys wanted to be her brother. All of us lifted up the top of our desks with the pretext of looking for something and hid ourselves behind them. One of us in the back row dove under the desk and hid there, shuddering and praying.

But alas, since I was a teacher's son I matched Michelle's visibility (albeit not for my looks). And so Mrs. Mukherjee's finger swept the room and settled on me. For long after, I had recurring nightmares about this - Mrs. Mukherjee pointing at me in class, everyone laughing - only her hand was a shotgun and the trigger was cocked.

Thus one fine Rakshabandhan day, in front of the whole school I became Michelle's brother. Worst of all I had to go shopping to buy her a gift which I gave to her after the tying of the rakhee. Amidst the kind of silence you'd find at a public hanging, a particularly nasty friend whooped from the third row.

I was incessantly teased for being Maha Maal ka bhai. My life appeared to be ruined. But against all odds, some good karma resulted from my new status with Michelle. First, I didn't have to work hard at all on an approach to get her friend Bipasha's attention. And some huge entertainment resulted from this situation later in life.

But that is a story for another ricksha ride.



Pitu said...

Wah Wah! Lajawab story! *giggling at Aspi's plight*

Anonymous said...

Awww Aspi you're sooo cuteee.I swear if I was with you face to face,I would sqeeze your cheeks really hard!

Never Mind!! said...

Bad bad bad Aspi,no donuts for you!
"suffered the ignominy of turning beet red whenever we studied certain events in Greek literature." totally cracked me up.

So I am guessing you eventually used the princess sister of yours to patao-fy Bipasha. I know a similar story although the boy eventually fell for the princess herself.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of being in the hostel(dorm) in India where guys would make someone a sister because they were interested in the sister's friend. With the guys to gals ratio we had in engineering some poor anti-maal would end up with lots of bros.

Anonymous said...

Amazing Aspi, just amazing! My brother and I went thru something like that cause we're only 2 years apart so my senior year in HS (his sophmore year in college) I went to visit him and his friends were totally hitting on me at first, but when he caught one of his friend trying to get a little too close, he lost it and flipped out. I was never to go visit him again! oh how boys will be boys!!

from what i know, boys never want to make a girl his muh-bola sister unless they have A) no chance with her whatsoever, or B) and i hate to say this but she's not the prettiest of a girl...

Anonymous said...

I also find the concept of forming relationships in India pretty funny. People easily start calling neighbors maasi or didi or bhaiya. Then it gets all confusing when they call a couple didi and bhaiya.

Unknown said...

gg, I have a cousin who is close to being a sister (in one of these posts I referred to her as Raveena). Whenever she walked past me she was under strict instructions not to acknowledge my presence because I used to get embarrassed when friends would ogle at her. Of course, she'd yell my name out from across the road, wave and sometimes blow kisses - leading to lots of fights.

j, funny now that you mention it about the rishta :) And I love the phrase anti-maal!

~sabrina~, this whole cheek pulling in childhood has resulted in one of my cheeks being slightly bigger than the other one. Perhaps you can pull the unloved side and get it in balance.

never mind!! let's hear your story!

Anonymous said...

Drift saab, I am rubbing my hands in glee! Your confession give me SOO much fodder for Love Chakker analysis of your early life....

But I would not dare embarrass you on your own blog---unless of course the regular Drifters want me to :-)

So let's hear a Yea or a Nay.

Kanan said...

Hahaha funny read, Aspi. :)
Teacher pulling cheeks was hilarious. I have some school incidents like this. Your autorickshaw confessions make me want to continue my mischievous-me series.

I went lmao @ maha maal. You guys come up with THE most outrageous names for girls, don't you?

Can't wait to hear what happened to Bipasha...

*raises hand and says 'aye' to Mind Rush*

Pitu said...

Mind Rush: Aye Aye Aye!! :-D

Anonymous said...

speaking of mu-bola bhais, anyone who went to college in the US may be familiar this type, the one seemingly inoffensive helpful-guide type guy that manages to become bhai-type to the few desi girls around (creeepy..). this guy should be awarded the best approach-angle strategy award. ...he made the system work for him:)

Anonymous said...

btw, mind rush, yea love chakker ghumao!

Anonymous said...

Aye for me too!. I think we may need a maha-yes from the drift memsaab.

Pitu said...

yaar someone needs to do a post on desi college-goers in the US to enlighten folks like me. i did my master's at a tiny, highly-ranked private college where i was the only desi. my grad class sie was 15 :-p so when my friends who went to mega ginormous universities tell me their tales, i feel so left out :_( Aspi, desi collegegoers pe post karo na!

Anonymous said...

A definite Yea for me on the love chakkar!

Pitu, I'm sorry to say you dont knw what you missed out on. Big colleges are SO much fun. I'm sorry I dont have the skillz like all you guys to write a post or else I would. But let me just say all the Indians that I knew who hated that fact that they were Indian in HS went thru a total 180 switch and were the first one to join the ISA club and perform at India Nights! oh and also, Flippy Cups and Beer pongs on a frat house backyard!

Anonymous said...

ha .. ha...ISA and India nights! that brings back so many memories...pure entertainment!

Pitu said...

I want ISA club and India nights *cries*

Kanan said...

I went to a huge school 28K+ students but never became part of the ISA or any other clubs. I just couldn't relate to it or its members. For some reason the whole idea was quite lame or so I thought. May be because I've read enough bad stories about binge drinking and other 'buri aadaten' of people at that age and I always thought that's all they did when they got together. May be I'm biased, I dunno.

One thing I missed the most in my 6+ years at the college/univ was the annual functions and musical nights we have in Indian colleges. *sigh* those are so much fun.

Anonymous said...


great story, as always! (coworkers giving me strange looks, thanks to you!)

Mind Rush - adding to the Ayes here!

And yes, along with everyone else who went to a large univ in the US for grad school - most unlikely of guys would wind up with many female "friends" and would boast of his exploits among his mates...had a cousin at the same univ I was at, so knew some of these stories.


Unknown said...

Yaar Mind Rush, I don't mind anything for entertainment. So go ahead. But I'll have you know - chances are you'll be wrong (semi-mysterious smile like Dr. Evil).

I actually had so much fun in grad school that I dragged my masters' thesis on for an additional 6 months. Some weird stuff went down for sure.

meena, the bhai-to-the-princesses approach works really well if you (a) quickly realize you aren't making it with the girls and (b) want to become suddenly popular with the horny jocks.

maxdavinci said...


and maha-maal ka bhai is simply awesome! A lot of girls in school tied rakhis to my kalayi and that ruined all my chances.

I wonder what made them do that. Brotherly love or potential deewana?

Anonymous said...

Drifters, three scary men in slicked back hair and 3 piece suits came to my house. They banged on my door and left a note that simply said "Nay!" There was also a picture of a man with big cheeks on the note...

Wonder who could have sent them???

Anonymous said...

Breaking news!

I just got a visit from someone who claimed to be a "bhai."

He said something about "maal." He then gave me 1 crore in cash advance to switch my vote from "yea" to "nay".

--so similar to what happened in the Indian parliament two days ago...

Anonymous said...

pitu, kya kiya jaye?
hope Aspi will come up with a post on what was so much fun in grad school.. and you can enjoy it vicariously:-P

Anonymous said...

The high school to college desiness is really an interesting dynamic.

I would go even younger actually. I noticed that a good amount of people in High school started becoming a South Asian click.

When in Middle school, it was more oh, no, try to be NOT Indian.

This may have to do with the times as well. By the time I was in High School South Asian Organizations started popping up in High School.

That doesn't mean that these kids still weren't friends with the other non desi kids. But slowly you saw the dynamic changing with having more desis around you than in Middle school.

And then it gets elevated in college, most likely because there's a more bigger population and a lot of outsiders who weren't there for your Public school years.

Then I think it also happens in college when your friends aren't in the specific college you are in. Thus somehow you end up getting more entrenched in the vast desi network.

I don't know if this is the case in other cities, but in Philly people do end up going to visit the other colleges that are just a few subway or el stops away. Temple being one of the bigger campuses, the U-Penn and Drexel and others will go to visit their high-school friends at Temple a bit more than the other way around. And thus once again you end up meeting more people in the vast desi network.

Anonymous said...

Aspi, hilarious! You make me want to write rickshaw ride stories too. Alas, I'm me -- negative talent for humour writing. If you ever run out of stories, let us know -- we'll tell you ours and you can craft them into more rickshaw stories! :)

Never Mind!! said...

Oh not much. we had a friend,say call AB Baby, who liked the Bipasha character back in 1999 and made the princess his mooh boli behen so she could help him get closer to Bips. Cut to 2006, the princess and AB Baby are married and singing a duet in Colombo on their honeymoon. :)

Cannot wait to hear wat happened to the Bipasha in your story.

Unknown said...

Lin, this growing up desi dynamic in school is very fascinating and requires further exploration. Since I can't do it we might have to wait for Motorsandal to grow up.

never mind!! that is quite a story!

Pitu said...

*dresses up like Drew Barrymore in 'Never Been Kissed', hides behind big, dark sunglasses so the Drifters won't recognize her, and excitedly applies to Northwestern to re-live lost years*

Anonymous said...

Truth be told though nothing beats doing engineering in India specially if you went to one of those schools that had an annual system. We would'nt even buy our books until it was January.

Anonymous said...

The AYEs have it!

Driftji, the analysis is all typed and bound and it's not all bad....

*Only child with no sisters =
quiet, sensitive (universally loved by girls and women. Evidence: Note gender of current Drifters)

*No siblings = active imagination (esp in relation to romantic escapades)! Also artistic or writer types.

*Mother is teacher = good student, has to be well beahved in public (no comment about the Mr. Hyde part on oggling at girls on the road :-)

This is the dime analysis. Kya bole, Drift, yaar?

Anonymous said...

Superb analysis mind rush.

-never mind

Anonymous said...

This message is being sent by Star Memsaab's butler as she is "busy"...

Analysis has been read and endorsed. Memsaab has noted with special interest the portion about Drift Sir's female fan following. She will consult about this with gal pals Suzzane R. and Gauri K.

Anonymous said...

For those of you old enough to remember usenet and soc.culture.indian, there was this extremely funny poster called Ramesh Mahadevan ( who used to post a bunch of funny articles about desis in the US.

I am including a few relevant links below. Go to his site to get the rest.

Article 1

Article 2

Article 3

Article 4

Article 5

Article 6

Article 7

Article 8

Article 9



Anonymous said...

Oooh also another aspect of being Desi in college. When you go to schools in your area, You end up being in school with desi people that previously, you had known only outside of school-perhaps their school wasn't in your area. They went to private or they were in the suburbs and so on.

Aspi, I would be very curious to see if there exists a South Asian click in Middle school once Motor Sandal makes it there. Not I mean you hang out with a few Desi friends, but I mean a larger all encompossing Desi network.

Also to those who are in the know. What's the deal with being Indian in elementary and Middle school these days? That's another thing I've noticed. The younger kids were more likely to make fun of you for being Indian. Once you got older, either they knew better to keep their mouth shut, or kids had just matured.

Anonymous said...

Texan, thank you for those links. Though I haven't read them yet, I plan to soon.

Clicked on the first link and scrolled through. Looks to be a funny read.

Unknown said...

Mind Rush, you are so good at this! But I was a huge jerk in school - back when I had masculinity confused with coarseness and emotional denial.

And whats this fan following business yaar? I'd like to think we are all here because we enjoy each others company now and then.

Pitu said...

*is a Chollywood girl and Hunnybunny is a Chollywoof pup and is enjoying the India show Hunny and she are hosting at home*

Unknown said...

I can't remember who left us those links from the jhagda on Bollwood ka Ticket. But I watched it because Zeenat was mentioned and man, was that tacky and low class or what?!

It was hilarious, then horrifying and then hilarious again. And yes, I did enjoy watching Zeenta - she is still JMLR!

Pitu said...

OMG that was HORRENDOUS! I would like to thappa maro that Puneet guy. grrrr
Also, I thought Amrita Singh looked hawt.

Pitu said...

Ajit and I were just watching it- here's the jhagda link-

Unknown said...

There was some dude on it pretty pissed that someone had referred to him as "Woh TV ke log". And then he proceeded to show everyone why classy people should be referred to with more respect than that.

I've heard the show will be renamed from Bollywood ka Ticket to Bollywood ka Nukkad. The nukkad waasis are going to be pissed.

Anonymous said...

In a fit of procrastination, I just watched it, and ... ewwww.

See, I'm just sorry Twinkle was in the middle of it. I was a big fan of Twinkle back in her SRGMP days; I thought she sang really well, accepted all comments with dignity and a smile, and got eliminated way too early. (And that she had a striking face.) It's so strange to see her throwing a starry tantrum!

Anonymous said...

The only thing missing is Ravi Kishen hosting the show. He has become by far my most entertaining host.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of desis living in the US have ya'll seen the movie "Flavors". It is one my favourites and I can watch is any number of times.

Unknown said...

Haven't seen it, j. But I added it to my netflix Q.

Pitu said...

Aspi, the dude who got mad is Chetan Hansraj. He's Jugal Mr Cute Hansraj's bhai. I know, they look absolutely nothing alike but Chetan also has bhoori aankhen. Did yall notice the barely bleeped out WTFs?

J, I have that movie at home - it's fun! My hub's classmate had a walk-on part in it (which is why we got the movie in the 1st place).

Anonymous said...

i always wanted to have an own brother!!i never tied anyone a rakhi ALL MY LIFE! but i even find it so weird ki how people can start off a full-fledged emotional bhai behen relationship with just anyone bcos of just one rakhi??!!
sorry if i'm being too rude or insensitive,i just can't connect to this muh bola bhai thing!it seems just so unreal!

Unknown said...

Hey Cinderella. There is an even weirder incident related to this which will be next :)

Anonymous said...

Plus you have to be nice to this muh-bola bhai. What's the fun it that?

Anonymous said...

Hey Aspi!
you know what?i actually missed being around!hehe:)
waisey, on a more personal note,if u don't have a 'badi-behen',you've actually missed out on something very wonderful:)

exactly!i know some of my classmates tied rakhis to the guys in our class and then the guys get all so possesive and dominating over if that's what they are supposed to do and that's how a 'bhai' should be!

Pitu said...

eww all the guys who wanted to make me their 'rakhi sister' (gag) actually wanted to date me. eeks. one dude actually used the following pink-up line- " Excuse me, you look jes like my sister. Can we do frensip?" (this while staring the entire time at my teeshirt) :-p Cinderella, if a guy wants you to tie a rakhi, RUN RUN RUN!

Anonymous said...

Adbhut! Kya baat hai!

I'm still laughing at the muh-bola bhai, maha maal princess mahasankat.

Hilarious as usual, Aspi!

It reminded me of long, long ago, when my husband and I were not yet an "item". It was Raksha Bandhan eve, and we were all hanging out at the usual adda, when a mutual friend asked the not-yet-husband material, if he would be at home the next day. His reply..."yaar, you know I never stay at home on Rakhi day, in case the girl I DON'T want as a sister shows up with a Rakhi."

Unknown said...

Smart man, that husband. Its kind of like not staying at home during Dhuleti - you never want to receive the wrong kind of attention.

Anonymous said...

okay i finally managed to watch that reality show where there was a fight

kaun jeetega whatever

that Puneet dude sooo had it coming.. i loved it when he almost got beaten up.. my mom was like "he got at least one punch didn't he?" hehehehe i was hoping that little twit would get a broken tooth at least..

i also can't stand his partner.. Twinkle..what a bitch!

Anonymous said...

also amrita singh! what is up with her bitchy attitude, she is so quick to call the young girls "cheap" and what have you.. umm i think she is disgruntled cuz her man/boy toy left her for a younger woman..

srsly she is sucha grade A bitch on the much attitude!

she was rolling her eyes when some chick (who looked rly young..probably young enuff to be her daughter) went to get some water cuz she was rly nervous on stage during elimination..

i mean who does that..

Anonymous said...

The situation we'd in our engineering college was the one of the girls in the MM (Maha maal) category was the sister of the Bhai (picture a young Sunny Doel) and the only people who'd hang out with her were the other Bhai Log as other guys were off limits.

The situation eased when apna Sunny Bhai started getting special attention from other girls.